A fast and furious day?s racing in Geelong saw the starting field whittled down from the 60 starters to a field of 15 by the finish. The course was a tight hotdog circuit, and it proved to be a technical challenge for the riders, as well as a reminder of the importance of positioning. A number of small crashes split up the bunch, and after the splintered groups failed to rejoin the head of the race, they were eliminated. This prompted some angry responses, as some of the riders thought they were entitled to take a lap out, but the commissaries disagreed and the field grew smaller and smaller rapidly. The most serious injury of the day looked to be Sean Whitfield of Oliver?s Real Food Racing, who appeared to clip his pedal through one of the hairpins, and fall awkwardly, later taken to the hospital for scans.
Up the front of the peloton the racing waited for no one, as Avanti IsoWhey were the main aggressors of the day as they launched attack after attack. The one that gained the most traction was recent signing from Drapac, Robbie Hucker, who spent the better part of 20 minutes off the front as Jack Haig was the lone Orica-Greenedge rider tasked with supporting Caleb Ewan and had the job of chasing him down. Hucker was eventually returned to the fold, which saw a number of counterattacks, none of which really looked like sticking, a move from Pat Lane (Avanti IsoWhey) and the Japanese road race champion Kazushige Kuboki (Novotel Geelong/Japan) probably the pick of them. Jack Haig wasn?t left by himself to close down the moves at this point, as Drapac?s Peter Koning also came to the front to shut down the moves for his sprinter Brenton Jones.
It all came down to a sprint in the end, but with a hairpin with 200 metres to go, it wasn?t going to be a conventional dash to the line. Caleb Ewan (Orica-Greenedge) opened up a gap to make sure he got to that corner first, and then powered to the line to take a comfortable win, with Brenton Jones (Drapac) flashing home for 2nd. Jones talked to Peloton Caf? after the stage.
?On a hotdog like this, when you?re putting out 1700 watts after every corner it?s hard to get into a rhythm. In the sprint, coming into the last corner, I got divebombed up the inside by Shawy (Pat Shaw of Avanti IsoWhey, 3rd) and a guy from Condor JLT Mavic (Christopher Lawless, 5th), I came round the corner 4th, then managed to come over the top in the last hundred metres to finish 2nd. So I?m content with that after Day 1, there?s three days to go and if I can keep getting on the podium and being consistent then it?s enough to win overall.?
Brenton Jones was a consistent improver during 2015, and capped off his season with a win in the Tour of Hainan against a field of accomplished sprinters. He?s clear in his goals of taking those good results and improving upon them for this year. ?First race of the season, it?s always hard coming out the first race of the year and seeing how the pre-season and the training are paying off. For today, 2nd place behind a superstar like Caleb Ewan is pretty good. I?ll be trying to get a win or on the podium at the Tour Down Under, then the Tours of Norway and Turkey later in the year, I?ll be trying to win there. That?s the goal and the team?s confident that I have the ability to do so. The leadout?s very strong, a few new boys, like Jason Lowndes, and then Graeme Brown with the experience. We?re confident in the leadout and it?s going to be quite powerful.?
Stage 2 of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic is around the Eastern Gardens in Geelong, sure to be the scene of an exciting race, if today?s action is to be any guide.
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